The Niger Delta Christian Leaders Forum NDCLF, was on Thursday locked out of the International Events Centre, also known as the Akure Dome, where it had planned to hold a national prayer summit for Nigeria.
The forum said it had the assurances of the facility managers and the government of Ondo State that it could use the facility, but was sent out without any alternative.
The delegates later congregated in front of the event centre to offer their prayers under the scorching sun.
The body comprised church leaders from the nine states of the Niger Delta, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and the Bible Society of Nigeria, BSN.
Its General Secretary, Eddy Bebor, a bishop, speaking on the development on behalf of the President of the forum, Ayo Oritsejafor, noted that there was a deliberate effort to prevent the forum from using the facility for the prayer summit.
Mr. Oritsejafor is the immediate past president of CAN, and was a major supporter of the Goodluck Jonathan administration which lost the 2015 general elections.
Mr. Bebor said the forum was determined to call for God’s intervention in finding a lasting solution to various challenges in the region and Nigeria at large.
He however said there was no disappointment since prayer could be offered anywhere, and that was done outside the centre.
According to Mr. Bebor, the Christians’ stake in the Niger Delta is to call on God who has solution to all challenges.
One of the leaders, Benaiah Moses, a pastor, said “This is quite unfortunate. Imagine, they sent us out after they had assured us of using the venue, giving an excuse that the place is reserved for dinner.
“Can this ever happen with other religions? I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t allow us to use the hall this morning, or in the least, give us an alternative.”
But the state information commissioner, Yemi Olowolabi, denied that the government was responsibile for the forum’s ordeal, saying the facility had its own management and that the clergymen might have failed to meet the required conditions for its usage.
Mr. Olowolabi said that there were conditions that even the state government needed to meet before the facility would be made available to it by the management.